8 Best Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work
Despite the fact that I’m on top of a mountain in New Zealand, 7,000 miles away from my spouse, I don’t believe we’ve ever been happier or more in love. We laugh and giggle like newlyweds when I FaceTime him.
My husband Nick and I are no strangers to long-distance relationships, and we have figured out how to make ours work through trial and error. When I lived in New York and he lived in California, we met in the Galapagos Islands. We had never even lived together prior to our marriage. Even now, three years married with a one-year-old son, we spend around a third of our time working in different parts of the world. Our connection improves as a result of our time apart and distance. I appreciate having the opportunity to miss him and reflect on why I chose to be with him in the first place.
And I’m not the only one. On a regular basis, I hear success tales regarding long-distance relationships. Some of the happiest couples I know have a long-distance relationship for part or all of their partnership. Most specialists even believe that starting a relationship when two people live in different places is beneficial.
“It is widely assumed that when people meet and fall in love with each other, the first surge of emotion lasts longer when the pair are separated,” Dr. Phillip Lee and Dr. Diane Rudolph, co-heads of Couples Therapy at Weill Cornell Medicine, explain.
Of course, there are issues with long-distance relationships, but the prognosis isn’t grim if two individuals are devoted to making it work. We spoke with professionals to learn how to overcome some of the challenges of long-distance love and to get long-distance relationship advice.
1. Technology Is Your Best Friend
Gottlieb says that long-distance relationships are easier now than ever because we have so many ways to stay connected thanks to technology.
“A lot of the glue of a relationship is in the day-to-day minutia, and with technology, you can share that in real-time, instantaneously, with photos, texts, and FaceTime. That’s very different from letters or long-distance phone calls,” says Gottlieb. “Also, because people in long-distance relationships rely more heavily on technology to stay connected, in some ways tech allows them to communicate verbally even more than couples who see each other [often], but sit in the same room not interacting at all.”
Gottlieb also advises that it’s important to share details with your partner instead of just generalizations. For example, don’t just say, “I went to this dinner and had a great time.” Instead, really delve into the details. Talk about who was there, what you talked about, what you ate, and how it made you feel. It will make every day come alive for your partner even though they weren’t there to witness it.
2. Be Committed to the Relationship
This applies to everyone involved in long-distance relationships but is particularly true for people pursuing long-distance relationships in college. It’s important to know that you’re truly committed to a person before wasting precious time. “If you’re in college, really truly think about if you love this person, and if they’re worth foregoing being single in college,” says Bela Gandhi, the founder of Smart Dating Academy. The importance of being single in college, according to Gandhi, is that you get to experiment and test the waters to determine what you really want and need in a relationship. “I see so many people that just go through the motions of a long-distance [relationship] and fritter away their college years.”
If you choose to stay in a long-distance relationship in college it’s imperative that you have a plan for what happens next and that you both work towards that goal. That’s another reason that Gandhi says going long distances in college can be hard. It’s daunting to have to plan your future around another person when you hardly know what your own future holds.
After surviving four years apart try your best to end the distance after college. “Ideally, you both end up working in the same city after graduation,” says Gandhi. “Long-distance relationships that are going to stand the test of time need a plan to end the distance at some point.”
3. Set An End Date
While long-distance love can be a great thing for a finite time, eventually you probably want to be in the same place as your partner. It helps both parties to know when that will happen. “It’s hard being apart, so you both have to be equally committed to the relationship and be on the same page about how long this situation will last, and what the plan is for eventually living in the same place,” says Gottlieb.
4. Do Stuff Together Even Though You’re Apart
Just because you aren’t physically in the same place doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together. “Plan a movie night together via Skype where you can watch the same movie even when you’re in different places,” suggests Gandhi.
Netflix, or other streaming services, makes it easier than ever to binge-watch shows with your partner. Gandhi also recommends doing online quizzes or games together and discussing the results to spark new and interesting conversations.
5. Make Fun Plans
Take pleasure in the specifics of what you and your partner will do the next time you see each other. “Come up with a plan for your next weekend together.” Make it a point to discuss the exciting activities you’ll do together on a regular basis. “Perhaps you can resolve that every night you’re together, instead of going to the same spots, you’ll explore new restaurants,” Gandhi suggests. This will give both spouses something to look forward to.
Gandhi also recommends organizing “good night video calls” in your PJs to give the impression of going to bed together.
6. Be Confident in Your Relationship
According to both Lee and Rudolph, insecurity can lead to one partner checking in on the other one too often. This can result in excessive calls and texts being sent for the wrong reasons and can lead to unnecessary tension.
“The constructive reason couples communicate is to provide their partners with a sense of their lives and what’s important to them. When the communication is hijacked by insecurity, the anxious partner will not be reassured, and the other partner will be turned off by the constant checking [in],” warn Lee and Rudolph. “The frequency of interaction in couples separated by distance needs to correlate to the same parameters of interaction when both are at home. It needs to be at a level agreeable to both parties.”
7. Stick to a Schedule
When your time together is limited, timing is crucial. To keep long-distance relationships going, you need to see each other, know when you’ll see each other, and be able to trust that the other person will follow through on their commitments.
“You don’t want to be separated for long periods of time,” Gottlieb explains.
8. Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Lee and Rudolph suggest against doing anything on social media that you wouldn’t want the other person to see.
Gandhi goes on to say that, within reason, you should try to avoid situations that might make your long-distance partner feel uncomfortable or threatened. You don’t have to check-in or obtain approval for every social encounter with your spouse, but you should establish clear boundaries and guidelines that are beneficial to both of you and follow them.t